Catalonia’s ancient towns and delicious delicacies are complemented by stays in historic Parador hotels, says Dave Richardson
Before going to bed at my hotel in Lerida, I wonder if I might have troubled dreams. The latest addition to the state-owned Parador hotel range is converted from a 17th century convent, and played a part in Catalonia’s turbulent history.
In 1707 during the War of Spanish Succession, 700 people were sheltering inside during a siege when the convent was set alight. The many who died are seen as martyrs and the suppression of Catalan nationalism after the war is still a live issue today.
Fortunately I sleep soundly, but when dining in the hotel’s grand domed restaurant (the former church) or walking the corridors of the old cloister, I do feel part of history. Many of the 98-strong Spanish Parador chain are converted from castles, convents, palaces or other historic buildings. As they can be found all over mainland Spain (plus a few in the Canary Islands), there’s no better way of discovering the country’s history, culture, gastronomy and traditions on a trip there.